Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 07/29/2014

Photo taken on July 27, 2014

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Anne Elliott
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Showy Milkweed
Asclepias speciosa Torr
friends' garden
© Anne Elliott 2014
used by Monarch butterfly

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Showy Milkweed buds

Showy Milkweed buds
Milkweed does not normally grow in Calgary, though we have seen a plant or two growing in the wild at one location in the city. My photo was taken in the garden of friends a couple of days ago, on 27 July 2014. I love Showy Milkweed, both the buds and the opened flowers. This macro shot shows how attractive the hairy little buds are, and such a delicate shade of pink. I did take photos of the flowers, too, but will add a previously posted image in a comment box below. Also in a comment box are previously posted photos of a Monarch caterpillar, Monarch chrysalises and a Monarch butterfly (photographed at the Calgary Zoo).

We were thrilled to see Monarch caterpillars on these beautiful garden flowers on 15 July 2012. Usually, it is very rare to see a Monarch butterfly in my city, but for some reason, quite a few of these spectacular butterflies appeared in Calgary and even a bit further north that year.

"Monarchs only use milkweed for their eggs - no other plant will do. There is a good reason for this. Milkweed is poisonous and the caterpillars absorb the poison into their bodies, thus making them immune to predators." From edmontonnaturalizationgroup. The National Geographic has an amazing, fascinating video of the life story of these spectacular butterflies - couldn't find a link to it, unfortunately.

""Pollination in this genus is accomplished in an unusual manner, as the pollen is grouped into complex structures called pollinia (or "pollen sacs"), rather than being individual grains, as is typical for plant pollen. The flower petals are smooth and rigid, and the feet of visiting insects (predominantly large wasps, such as spider wasps, which visit the plants for nectar) slip into notches in the flowers, where the sticky bases of the pollinia attach to the feet, pulling the pollen sacs free when the pollinator flies off. Bees, including honey bees only gather nectar from milkweed flowers, and are generally not effective pollinators despite the frequency of visitation.

Species in the Asclepias genus grow their seeds in pods. These seed pods contain soft filaments known as either silk or floss. The filaments are attached to individual seeds. When the seed pod ripens, the seeds are blown by the wind, each carried by several filaments." From Wikipedia.

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